Head and neck cancer is on the rise around the globe. At present, the disease affects both the elderly and younger patient populations. This type of cancer is significant as it involves crucial anatomic regions of the head and neck, which are vital for breathing, mastication, swallowing, speech, and olfaction. The treatment options for head and neck malignancies are mainly surgery and chemoradiation, depending on the stage of the tumors. Inflammation plays an important role, and it has a strong relationship with the risk factors, assessment, and treatment of head and neck cancer. Multiple risk factors for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma like smoking, alcohol, viruses, chemicals, and foods have some elements of inflammation that play a dominant role in promoting and sustaining carcinogenesis. The inflammation cascades are complex, and multiple factors cohesively interact within the microenvironment that eventually leads to carcinogenesis, tumor recurrence, and metastasis. Recent evidence suggests that numerous anti-inflammatory biomarkers have effective therapeutic roles in the management of head and neck cancer. This chapter highlights the prominent relationship and interaction that exists between head and neck cancer and inflammation, not only in its etiopathogenesis but also in the assessment and overall management approaches. The significant focus is on the role of inflammatory agents that contribute to the process of carcinogenesis, as well as discussion on several significant inflammatory markers and molecules which may serve as a potential effective target for personalized treatment in head and neck cancer management armamentarium in the near future.
Keywords: Anti-inflammation, Carcinogenesis, Chemoradiation, Epstein Barr viruses, Head and neck cancer, Immunomodulation, Loco-regional recurrence, Malignancy, Metastases, Nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Oncogenic viruses, Oncologic surgery.